Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Community-based free/libre open source software (FLOSS) teams with internal governance constitute an extreme example of distributed teams, prominent in software development. At the core of distributed team success lies team decision making and execution. However, in FLOSS teams, one might expect the lack of formal organizational structures to guide practices and reliance on asynchronous communication to make decision making problematic. Despite these challenges, many effective FLOSS teams exist. We lack research on how organizations make IS development decisions in general and on FLOSS decision-making models in particular. The decision-making literature on FLOSS teams has focused on the distribution of decision-making power. Therefore, it remains unclear which decision-making theories fit the FLOSS context best or whether we require novel decision-making models. We adopted a process-based perspective to analyze decision making in five community-based FLOSS teams. We identified five different decision-making processes, which indicates that FLOSS teams use multiple processes when making decisions. Decision-making behaviors remained stable across projects even though they required different types of knowledge. We help fill the literature gap about which FLOSS decision mechanisms one can explain using classical decision-making theories. Practically, community and company leaders can use knowledge of these decision processes to develop infrastructure that fits FLOSS decision-making processes.





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